Would you like your content to contain fewer errors? Wouldn’t it be great to type faster and more accurately? Want to stay focused and minimize distractions? These free online resources that can help you do those things, and more:
1. Reduce mistakes with Grammarly
We know you hate mistakes – especially the kind you catch after you send your latest creation out into the world. (TFW you click “send” or “publish” and THEN notice that big, fat typo sitting right there.) Well, Grammarly can help you avoid that next embarrassing error.
Billed as the “world’s leading online proofreader,” this is a must-have for content developers who are doing more work online, away from the protection of Word’s spelling and grammar checkers. It offers free extensions for Chrome, Safari or Firefox that provide as-you-write-it assistance. And, once you install Grammarly, it will help you ensure whatever you type in Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is error-free.
2. Write more clearly with Clarity Jargon Buster
Corporate-speak, buzzwords and jargon have no place in great content. But even if we watch out for them, they can sneak in and render our writing dull or confusing. Head off those readability killers by popping your text into Clarity Jargon Buster – with a simple click, it will instantly search for 800 words that you should think twice about. You can experiment with a free version on the site, but a “basic” version is only $2.99, and it can also be installed as a macro in Word.
3. Keep track of keywords with WordCounter
Sure, WordCounter will let you know how many words you type or paste into its interface (with that name, it better!), but that’s not all. It will also identify the top ten keywords you use, as well as your “keyword density.” Doing this “can prevent you from over-using certain words or word combinations and check for best distribution of keywords in your writing,” according to the site. Bonus: It will also tell you how long it will take to speak your piece aloud, which could come in handy.
4. Eliminate distractions with StayFocused
Content developers, like anyone else who works on or near a computer, have literally countless alternatives to getting to their work done. You know what they are: Twitter, Facebook, making hotel reservations, watching kitten videos, etc., are always beckoning. Even those of us with a serious ability to focus can be easily distracted. But if we can’t help ourselves, chances are that StayFocused can.
This Google Chrome extension won’t prevent you from picking up your phone, but it can keep you from wasting time on your favorite websites. To use it, you tell it which sites you are most tempted by and set a daily limit for how much time you can spend on them. Once that limit has been reached, you can’t access that site for the rest of the day. (Never fear – if the extension is helping you stay too focused, you can always adjust the settings.)
5. Learn to touch-type with TypingClub
Here’s a thought: One way to write faster is to type faster. Brilliant, right? If you didn’t take typing in high school, you may be a speed whiz with your thumbs while texting but not so quick with all ten of your fingers on a full-sized keyboard. So, why not learn how to touch-type? You’ll amaze your friends and quite possibly become more productive. One way to do that is by “joining” TypingClub, a free online typing tutor that offers 650 typing games, tests and videos. Why not invest a few minutes a day learning or sharpening this critical skill you use every day?
6. Increase your output with Tomato Timer
Although it sounds paradoxical, one of the keys to being productive is taking regular breaks. Tomato Timer puts the theory behind the Promodoro Technique for time management developed by Francesco Cirillo to work for you by breaking up your day into 25-minute segments of work followed by five-minute breaks and then a longer break. (Cirillo used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer as a student, which explains the name.)
7. Manage your editorial flow with Trello
We’ll let a devoted user describe this one: “I’m always coming up with new content ideas and while I’ve tried keeping these organized in spreadsheets, they’ve never really made the process easy,” writes Blogging Wizard’s Adam Connell. “I use Trello to keep everything organized, it’s a free tool that allows you to make lists of lists and easily drag them to a new list. I have a separate board for each project and whenever I get a new blog post idea, it’ll go on the post ideas list then I’ll move it over to the in-progress list as soon as I start writing.”